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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Sunday, April 9, 2006

Crater fest rocks, second time around

By Michael C. DeMattos

I have always wanted to see the Steve Miller Band in concert, but the ticket for last weekend's multiband crater festival was a bit rich for my blood. Then, late last week, my wife called from work, she had scored free tickets.

One of her (younger) friends had won some passes on the radio and could not make the show. In fact, she didn't even know that Steve Miller had a band. Ahh, the tragedy of youth.

I was determined to attend the concert rain or shine, and if recent weather held true, rain was the more likely. It was not lost on me, either, that with heavy rains, Diamond Head Crater would turn into a swimming pool. However, these were not my concerns. I just wanted to see one of my boyhood idols in concert.

Without sounding ageist, you could tell right away this concert was designed for baby boomers by baby boomers. We parked the car at 'Aina Haina Elementary and took a school bus to Diamond Head Crater. Not so long ago I rode a bus just like it to school every day. I was just a kid then and, strangely, I seemed a kid now; looking around, I noted that I was the youngest person on the bus.

We arrived at the crater just before 2 p.m., took a quick tour of the food booths and grabbed a bite for lunch. I had fried green tomatoes, Egyptian lamb shank with brown rice and a Pilsner Urquel. My wife had vegetarian nachos covered in seasoned carrots and onions, stuffed grape leaves and a Foster's Lager. Baby boomers all the way.

We quickly found an open spot on the grass, laid out our blanket, and settled in for the show. We had a great view of the stage, good food and an adult beverage. They even handed out free antibacterial hand wash at the entrance gate. The only thing missing were the AARP applications.

Not so long ago, only the music mattered, and a concert was a Dionysian escape from the rigors of school and work. We danced in the aisles, tossing our manes to and fro enjoying our youth to the fullest. Years later, school and work are one and the same, and the breaks are fewer and farther between. So this was truly a special occasion. We had our raincoats, sunscreen (you can never be too sure) paperback novels, cribbage board, cards and low-carb protein bars, just in case. Not quite Dionysian, you say? That depends on whom you ask.

I was 10 when I went to my first rock concert back in the mid-'70s. My sister took me to one of the early crater festivals, and all I remember is brown grass and loud music.

Thirty years later, I had the surreal feeling things were the same, yet somehow different. We still danced to the music, though we have a little more "junk in the trunk." The music was still loud, though this time, I knew all the words and dutifully sang along with my man, Steve Miller.

We felt spontaneous, yet came prepared.

And the grass? Well, it may have been due to heavy rain, but it was the deepest green I have ever seen. I guess it is true: The grass is always greener on the other side, and age has its privileges.

Michael C. DeMattos is on faculty at the University of Hawai'i School of Social Work. He lives in Kane'ohe with his wife, daughter and two dogs.